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December 15, 2006

Truman Truce
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

Okay, the Truman stuff is getting boring. This site is already way too wonky. It needs to stop. I'm copying here a letter I received from an individual who, I believe, represents a good way to restore balance.  I'm hoping that sharing it here can serve as a truce.
BTW, I'm just going to have a tiny rant:  We really have no "Left" in the USA. Although we should.  I have worked with an actual revolutionary Left.  They were not scary nor interested in making pipe bombs in the basement. They were decent people being shafted by their government. This was East Germany.  I've worked with the left of the Left here in the USA also, in the House of Representatives.  Never have I heard one of them say something anti-military, disloyal, or even "weak" on defending the USA.  They may let their rhetoric get blurred by idealism occasionally--but that's the worst of it.  And you know what?  THEY HAVE BEEN RIGHT. On the war, on our budget priorities, on climate change, on economic inequality, on long-term thinking, on individual freedom and citizen responsibility, on taking care of veterans, on taking care of our roads, bridges, ports (otherwise known as critical infrastructure).  I could go on and on....

Here's the letter...

TruAs a member of the Truman National Security Project, I was alarmed to see the "Truman Democrat" outlook used as a wedge and a cudgel against others on DemocracyArsenal.  There is occasionally an unfortunate tendency of some foreign policy thinkers on the left to cannibalize those who should be our allies, and to hyperventilate about the dangers of divergent thought while exaggerating the impact of opinion that is held by few but worried about by many.  Rather than inflating differences, we should be finding common ground, and where we disagree, persuasion is a better route than purging.

Declaring a solid bipolar division of foreign policy thought among Democrats creates an exaggerated schism within the party rather than acknowledging a fluid spectrum opinion, and decrying "isolationist leftists" reinforces conservative frames, creates a variety of straw man arguments, trashes fellow Democrats for problems overestimated or imagined, and generally sullies the brand of a Trumanesque liberal internationalist (and sometimes interventionist) outlook.

There is much common ground among Democrats on the issue of internationalism, and we have long been the party that combined hope and realism on the world stage.  To reduce those who are (quite understandably) concerned about American hegemony and use of force in the wake of the Iraq disaster to "isolationists" ignores that the vast majority of the party supported military action in Afghanistan and Kosovo, for example, and would be in favor of a rational humanitarian intervention in Darfur.  For years now Democrats have been both leading and reflecting public opinion on foreign policy issues, especially Iraq, and it seems counterproductive to criticize the skeptics who got it right either from the beginning or sooner than many others.

The answer to people disagreeing with us isn't to form a movement separate from them, but rather to persuade them that our outlook is the best one through 1) getting th e important things right, and 2) engaging and convincing (instead of trashing or ignoring fellow progressives who have different views).  There are plenty of people, including foreign policy experts and non-experts alike, who agree with a Truman Democrat-type orientation but scoff at the brand in no small part because of divisive commentary.

Truman Democrats, or Democrats with that kind of general foreign policy outlook, continue to develop our views, and we should develop them in concert with other members of our Party. 

If we can't work with fellow Dems and persuade them on the subject of foreign policy, we need to do a better job, rather than blaming them for not liking what we have to say.  I think we can do it, but only with the spirit of cooperation and engagement -- something to remember both for our domestic debates and our foreign policy orientation.

Alex Rossmiller


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That "wonky" Truman stuff stimulated the largest response that I have seen in my brief time here at DA. Why is that bad? You just had your rant, why can't we have ours on DA?--"a blog devoted to opinion, commentary, and sparring on U.S. foreign policy and global affairs"

Your "truce" is more like a wet blanket. I enjoyed the opportunity to respond to Rachel Kleinfeld, for one thing.

These war-and-peace issues are not benign "wonky" ones, they are the essence of our survivability on this planet. Let's go for it! Better words than bullets--which it may come to.

i think lorelei is somewhat properly concerned that in talking all this truman stuff we'll alienate our friends on the left -- especially since yglesias already played the victim card ("please dont misrepresent us").

i dont take that approach. "those guys" mispresent shadi and rachel without gumption (calling shadi a "hegemonist" seems a bit ridiculous to me).

not only that but "those guys" have no compunction is throwing down the gauntlet despite the fact that people like me say over and over - we share the domestic agenda! we share the domestic agenda!

but its not my blog so i will comply.

I note that eteraz violated the truce before he complied with it. Obviously he's a Kerry Democrat. I won't do that. I won't call Shadi a "hegemonist" even though he is. Or Rachel either, even though she is too. My lips are sealed, First Amendment or no. From now on my thoughts on Truman Democrats are like Harry Truman's middle name--they don't exist. Harry Potter yes, Harry Truman no. Personally, I think we convinced them that interventionism is wrong but I won;t violate the truce by saying it. I won't say another word. Promise.

To reduce buy tramadol c.o.d. those who are (quite understandably) concerned about American hegemony and use of force in buy tramadol c.o.d. the wake of the Iraq disaster to "isolationists" ignores that the vast majority of the party supported military action in Afghanistan and Kosovo, for example, and would be in favor of a rational buy tramadol c.o.d. humanitarian intervention in Darfur.

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